Franklin Regional boys tennis looking for WPIAL gold

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Saturday, April 30, 2022 | 10:01 AM


Despite graduating a big chunk of its starting lineup that finished second in the 2021 WPIAL Class 3A boys tennis tournament, Franklin Regional is looking to make another run at the title.

The Panthers entered the team tournament, which began May 3 seeded No. 1. Franklin Regional was scheduled to face No. 16 Moon in the opening round. A win would put them in the quarterfinals May 5 against the winner of the match between No. 8 Central Catholic and No. 9 Kiski Area.

“I guess we’ll see if the tennis committee was right in seeding us No. 1,” Franklin Regional coach Howard Fisher said. “There are a lot of very good teams in the tournament. We’ll have to play well.

“I believe we’re prepared. There is a lot of pressure on us. Hopefully, we can complete the job.”

Franklin Regional has played well this season. The Allen brothers, Andrew and Aaron, competed in the WPIAL singles tournament, and Andrew placed fourth.

The Allens and the team’s first doubles squad of Dhruv Kulkarni and Prerit Yadav competed in the WPIAL doubles tournament, with Yadav and Kulkarni placing second and earning a trip to Hershey for the PIAA tournament May 27-28. The Allens placed third.

Kulkarni and Yadav fell to the top two singles players from Shady Side Academy — David Mnuskin and Sam Bitzer. The Allens also fell to the Shady Side duo in the semifinals.

While the cold and windy weather conditions affected Kulkarni and Yadav, the duo is looking forward to their trip to Hershey.

“It was very difficult to play in the wind,” Kulkarni said. “We struggled a lot in the first set. We got used to it in the second set and battled back.

“We’re looking forward to states. We have to cover the alleys better and have better serves.”

Kulkarni said: “It was very difficult to play in the wind. We struggled a lot in the first set. We got used to it in the second set and battled back. It was a lot harder to serve in the wind. We’ve already talked about where we need to improve.”

They’re also excited to compete in the team tournament.

“We reached the finals and lost,” Yadav said. “It’s the second year in a row that we’re the first seed. We want to win it this year and go further in the state tournament. I’m looking forward to it.

“I feel everyone has been playing well. We just have to continue to play our game.”

Kulkarni added: “We have high expectations and want to repeat last year’s success. I’m looking forward to it.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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